BE A FOSTER PARENT

Finding Families for Children

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Children

Who are the children most likely to need a foster/adoptive family?

The populations of children who are most likely to need foster and adoptive families are similar:

  • Children with history of abuse and/or neglect
  • Children who are medically fragile
  • Children born exposed to alcohol and other drugs
  • Brother and sisters who want and need to be together
  • Children of all races/ethnicity and all ages
Do all children who need foster/adoptive families have problems?

They often are frightened and confused by the separation from their parents. Some are angry. Others think they are being punished. Most children need foster/adoptive parents because of something done to them, not something they have done. They are not “bad” children. They come from bad situations, but not bad families.

Over time, the sad and mad feelings and behaviors may gradually lessen as the child comes to know and trust you, and feel safe with you. Foster/Adoptive parents take pride in helping children catch up in school, teaching them to groom themselves, teaching children social skills, and helping them understand their past.

How long does it take before a child is placed in our home?

After your home is licensed, how soon a child is placed with you depends upon a number of factors:

  • The specific needs of the child, including the needs of the children already living in your home.
  • Foster/Adoptive parents’ preference regarding age and sex
  • Future plans for the children such as reunification, adoption or transitional living
  • Preference of the children’s Caseworker with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

These are only a few examples of factors, which would determine how quickly a child might be placed in your home.

Qualifications

What are the qualifications to be a foster/adoptive parent?

Foster/Adoptive parents can be married/single or with/without children already in their families. We are looking for individuals, couples, or families who can protect children and nurture them.  Foster/Adoptive parents have to understand how children grow and develop, and how abuse and neglect affects that development. Foster/Adoptive parents need to respect that the children placed with them will have feelings about their birth families. Generally, the older the child, the more memories and attachments there will be.

Foster/Adoptive parents need to help children maintain contact with their birth families, not only because most children return to their families, but also because it is important for their self-esteem and identity. Visits between children and their families are important. New Horizons will work with you to arrange this contact. In most cases, foster/adoptive parents will monitor phone and letter contact, and may bring the children to the agency for visits.

Training

How long does it take to become a foster/adoptive parent?

The mission of New Horizons is to find parents for our children, not children for our foster and adoptive parents. Some people think that because there is a shortage of foster/adoptive families, becoming a foster/adoptive parent happens quickly.  There are too many children who have experienced the tragedy of abuse and neglect, so we do need many competent foster/adoptive families. The licensing/training process will take on the average about two to three months and involves approximately 40 hours of specialized training.

Why do we need special training?

Fostering a child is not the same as parenting a child born to you. Over time, you may need to talk with the child about the birth family, or help the child manage feelings about being in foster care. The training we provide will help you help the children. Children who have experienced the tragedy of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to or involvement in drugs are more challenging to raise. Often, they feel angry or upset because of the sad experiences they have encountered. They need time to learn a lot of things; that adults can be trusted, that they are not going to be hurt anymore and that there are acceptable ways to express their sad or angry feelings.

Some people think that children who have been abused will feel grateful to be with another family. However, most children truly care about their parents, siblings, and other kin. Even though they have been abused, there probably were some good family times, too. One of the biggest challenges in fostering is to be sure that children never feel they have to “choose” between families, and that one family isn’t “better” than another. It takes patience, skill, and training to help children understand that birth families and foster families are different. It is okay to care about all our families.

What is involved in training?

During our training process, you will receive information needed to help you and our agency make an informed decision about whether this program is right for you, and whether you are right for the program. It will help you develop the special knowledge and skills important for fostering the children we serve, and it will help educate you how to be the best foster parent you can be.

Our agency requires prospective foster/adoptive parents to complete an average of 40 hours of training. Also, 40 hours of observation will be required if licensed as a Therapeutic Home. All of the required hours will be coordinated by the agency. State law provides licensing standards for foster/adoptive homes. The licensing standards exist to help the agency protect and safeguard the wellbeing of children in its care.  In addition to these standards, our agency also has some requirements to help determine the appropriateness of foster/adoptive families who have applied to New Horizons.

What is involved in the licensing process?

The Foster/Adoptive Home verification process requires a great deal of paperwork and information gathering by New Horizons. New Horizons will complete a criminal history check for every adult and any child over the age of 14 living in the prospective foster/adoptive family home. It is very important for you to share information about any possible problems during our initial meeting.

Our agency will complete a background check for all adults and children age 14 and above in the prospective foster family to make sure they have never been the subject of any abuse or neglect report involving a child.

We are asking you to disclose very personal information to our agency, and understand that you may feel some discomfort and anxiety discussing these matters. We appreciate your willingness to share such personal information with us, and can assure you that everything you share with us is kept strictly confidential. Your interest in helping children means we have to work together as a team to achieve our mutual goals. An honest and open discussion between prospective foster parents and our agency is the beginning of a teamwork relationship that will benefit children. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

If it becomes clear that the residence, financial situation, application, or background check do not meet the requirements of licensing standards and New Horizons, we will share this information with the prospective foster/adoptive parents. Our commitment to honest and open communication with prospective foster/adoptive parents includes our responsibility to inform you when foster care and/or adoption is not possible because of your family’s current circumstances.

Financial and Legal

What does it cost to foster a child and how do finances work?

New Horizons will reimburse you for the cost of raising a child based upon a daily rate.

Foster/adoptive parents receive a check biweekly to help cover the cost of the child’s food, clothing, personal needs, mileage, and respite care.

The first check will not come the day the child is placed; foster parents need enough extra money in their budgets to support their own family and the new child or children until reimbursement arrives.

Do I have legal and financial responsibility for children placed in my home?

If you are a foster home for New Horizons, the State of Texas has either temporary or permanent guardianship of or responsibility for the child.

How Do I Start?

What do I do next if I am interested in becoming a foster/adoptive parent?

The first step to becoming a foster/adoptive parent is to complete the Application for Foster or Adoptive Family and return it to New Horizons. New Horizons staff will then contact you to set up an initial tour of your home. Licensing standards have specific requirements in regards to the size of the bedrooms for children and the amount of space that must be available in the bedrooms for children and the amount of living space that must be available to each child. You do not have to live in a mansion or fancy, large home in order to be licensed as a foster/adoptive parent. However, we must measure your home in order to determine if it will meet the state’s requirements.

The only way to know if your home meets these requirements is to see it. We understand that the need to see your entire home may feel intrusive; however, we need to work together for the good of the children. During the visit to your home, we will also conduct an initial interview with both prospective foster/adoptive parents. Some of these questions may be personal, however, we must determine if your family is the “right fit” for our children.

The entire foster/adoptive family verification and training process is reviewed regularly by the New Horizons Foster Care Committee. You have the right, at any time, to stop the process if you do not feel this program is right for you and your family. New Horizons has the right to terminate the licensing process with a prospective family at any time if concerns arise in regards to the ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children in care.

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